Sunday 10 December 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the words of the United Nations it “is a milestone document in the history of human rights”. I’d go one step further and call it a highpoint in the history of humanity.
History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by representatives with different backgrounds from all over the world, including Eleanor Roosevelt (pictured) as well as the outstanding Australian politician and high court justice, H.V. Evatt.
This unique document is close to my heart, perhaps because I have felt like an outsider all my life. That may have resulted from the sense I never really fitted in with my family. Because of that I have always identified with those who don’t fit in either.
Why does it matter now?
It particularly galls me when minorities are oppressed. Of course this goes on all over the World. Indeed, it’s something of a time honoured practice embraced by those intent on power. Earlier this year I asked international jurist Michael Kirby if human rights were under threat. His answer was unequivical: Yes. Oppressed minority groups are prevented from using their own cultural practices, speaking their own language or even using their natural names. Moreover, members of the majority group are often ‘imported’ to further dilute the influence of the minority.
In my almost 80 years on this planet I’ve observed that there seems to be a tendency for those in power to mould and control the powerless. However, in my experience that only leads to heartache and misery.
Indeed, there is usually an uprising; one that is often ruthlessly suppressed. Time after time we have seen this happen. Often the blame seems to be heaped on those who are really the victims.
It’s true to say this isn’t just restricted to nation-states. It can also be within families or communities too. The temptation for the strong to bully the weak is almost insurmountable. What I’m really suggesting is that this abuse extends all the way from individuals to countries. It’s all the same – an abuse of power. Which is something the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
What can you do about human rights?
On Sunday 10 December 2023 I plan to hold a special event in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will include an all-faith gathering followed by presentations and discussions from oppressed minorities. I hope it will honour the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all humanity. After all, surely that is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Date: Sunday, 10 December 2023
Venue: 180 Liverpool Road, Ashfield